Curbs back as COVID-19 cases rise, Delhi issues ‘yellow alert’

Schools, colleges shut; mandatory quarantine for international passengers

December 29, 2021 01:33 am | Updated 08:58 am IST - New Delhi

A health worker waiting for people to turn up for COVID-19 test at a Metro station in New Delhi on December 28, 2021.

A health worker waiting for people to turn up for COVID-19 test at a Metro station in New Delhi on December 28, 2021.

A yellow alert has been sounded in Delhi and restrictions imposed under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) due to rising COVID-19 cases in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Tuesday.

Later in the day, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) ordered closure of schools, colleges, cinemas and gyms with immediate effect and put various restrictions on the functioning of shops and public transport.

The restrictions include extension of night curfew (from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.), closure of schools and colleges, opening of non-essential shops based on an odd-even basis, and 50% seating capacity in Metro trains and buses.

Marriages and funerals will be allowed attendance of 20 people while all other types of gathering related to social, political, cultural, religious and festival events will be prohibited.

‘Do not panic’

While announcing the restrictions, Mr. Kejriwal appealed to the people to not panic.

Government sources told The Hindu , that there would be mandatory quarantine at hotels in the vicinity of the IGI Airport for all international passengers to nip the possibility of the community spread of the Omicron variant in the Capital.

A senior government official said the Health Department brainstormed over the measures during the day as it sought to rationalise and reconcile the footfall of passengers with the number of hotel facilities where they would undergo quarantine after landing in the city.

Mr. Kejriwal made the announcement following a detailed review of the situation in the city where it was decided to impose part of level 1 or Code Yellow of GRAP.

Level 1 restrictions were announced as the COVID positivity rate in the city had remained beyond 0.50% for two consecutive days.

The positivity rate had breached the 0.50% ceiling on December 26 from where it continued to climb steadily and was recorded at 0.68% on December 27 and at 0.89% on Tuesday.

496 new cases

The tally of both new and active COVID cases recorded an upward swing over the three days with 290 new cases on December 26 bringing the total active cases in the city to 1,103. At least 331 cases pushed the active cases to 1,289 the following day and 496 new cases brought the tally of active cases to 1,612 on Tuesday.

“Delhi is witnessing a sudden and speedy rise in COVID cases. The positive part this time is that there is absolutely no reason to be worried or scared, as the new cases that are coming up are majorly mild or asymptomatic in nature,” he said at a virtual press briefing.

“In most cases, patients are not needing oxygen support, nor hospitalisation, ventilators or ICU facilities. So people should not stress,” about the rising number of cases. In addition to this variant of COVID being mild, another reason for people to not worry is that the Delhi government is fully prepared to tackle these rising numbers this time,” he added.

“I want the public to note that these restrictions are for their own safety. While I understand that people are frustrated with having dealt with Covid restrictions time and again for over two years now. But we have no choice,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

Meanwhile, the DDMA will hold a crucial meeting under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal at 4 p.m. on Wednesday to review the Omicron threat and discuss the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the national capital, according to an official notice.

Mr. Kejriwal said the government was imposing restrictions to avoid the virus from entering anyone’s homes. A few months ago, the government had formulated a Graded Response Action Plan in order to take appropriate action and impose restrictions depending on the level of spread of the COVID-19.

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